Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Natalie Norris

60: Natalie Norris

Create a graphic memoir, “Dear Mini: Book Two”

Natalie Norris is a cartoonist and an MFA graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies ‘20 where Dear Mini was the focus of her thesis. In addition to being a cartoonist, she is also a comics librarian, teacher, survivor advocate, and devoted dog mom. In 2020 she was a guest speaker at the New England Graphic Medicine Conference and has lectured about the intersection of graphic memoir and trauma for medical school students and other cartoonists.

Project description

Dear Mini, my two-part graphic memoir, is a bittersweet coming of age story that chronicles my teenage experiences with sexual violence, PTSD, and resiliency told in the form of a letter to an old friend. Dear Mini is not a cautionary tale – it is an exploration of adolescent agency in the face of trauma, and traces my journey from wayward wild-child to harnessing my adult voice after a decade of silence.

The story unfolds through full-color painted illustrations with swirling text that directly addresses Mini. Through the letter, I invite the reader to come along with my adolescent self and see the world as she experienced it. It is both a beautiful and harrowing journey that explores the fragile nature of life, safety, and trust. My hope is that in bringing light to the darkest of places, I will provide other survivors of sexual, gender-based, and interpersonal violence the assurance that they too can honor their pain and reconnect with their inner strength.

Book One, which I have already completed, tells the account of what happened to me while visiting Mini in Austria as a teenager. Book Two, which this grant will help me to complete, tells a story that I think is even more important than the details of the trauma itself: the post-traumatic impact of sexual violence and my decade long journey to find safety and healing within myself.

Dear Mini Books One and Two are under contract with Fantagraphics Books. Working with my publisher has been a wonderful opportunity to connect with their audience of comics readers as well as to reach beyond and connect with survivors who may be less familiar with graphic novels. A key component of putting my story into the world is to create more opportunities to bring awareness to the impacts of sexual violence and foster dialogues about healing and regaining empowerment. I hope that by making myself visible I can bring visibility to all of the survivors who have stories yet untold.

Media Samples

DearMiniSamplePages. “The opening 15 pages of Dear Mini: Book One show how I approach drawing and storytelling. The pages for Book Two will be in the same style.”

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Acadia Klepeis August 24, 2023